June 27, 2015

Replicating Silicon Valley

[Reproduced from a VC’s blog in Silicon Valley, first published in 2012]

Replicating Silicon Valley

 

A lot of cities and countries want innovation. So they try to borrow or copy elements of Silicon Valley. Naturally, they copy what they can easily observe – have great universities, invite big tech companies to open local offices, provide some regulatory incentives to startups, find $ to invest in entrepreneurs.

What is conspicuously missing in these “Get ‘The Valley’ Quick” schemes is that they don’t encourage the underlying and the most crucial piece, which is the Silicon Valley culture.

It’s hard to put the Valley’s culture into words, but it’s like Justice Potter Stewart’s statement about hard-core porn: “I know it when I see it”.

People in the Valley are extremely open to new ideas and new people. A venture capitalist in a neat buttoned down shirt could be having an engaging and genuine conversation with a bushy-bearded entrepreneur in t-shirt and shorts. Designers in tailored jeans can brainstorm ideas with hackers in hoodie + sandals.

And innovation happens precisely when these types of interactions happen. When vastly different perspectives meet.

When ideas have sex.

 

When there is a new idea people say “oh cool, how can I help?”. In most other places, social lines are drawn and new ideas are met with “wait, really, you want to do what, now?”

So in cities that claim to want to be innovative and have the Silicon Valley environment, they really don’t know what they want. Billionaires in those cities will actually have to talk to penniless college students. High ranking politicians will actually have to interact with “disruptive” citizens.

God forbid, people of different “social classes” will actually have to go to the same party. Even worse, people who have just recently met will have to actually trust each other and share things that they are working on rather than protecting their “own” creations. And investors will actually have to put money behind people without 20 years of prior experience and companies without $ millions in revenues already. And most importantly, people will actually have to be open minded to change their jobs & lifestyles when an opportunity comes.

You want to be like Silicon Valley? You can’t handle being like Silicon Valley.

Until the “rich” people and the “powerful” people get over themselves (everybody eats, sleeps & poops etc.)…And until people in general get over themselves, you can copy the exterior image of the Valley, but you can’t capture its true magic.

 

[From a VC @ GSV Capital | Original source:  on.fb.me/YgCuz5]